Recording of Mass at my old seminary, Ushaw College, from 1960.
Sadly we are finding that the Church has often failed priests in teaching them the Faith, and in so doing they have failed the laity who are supposed to be sanctified by these very same priests.
We often think of the classic expression lex orandi lex credendi (as we pray, so we believe) as being applicable to the laity. In reality, it is just as applicable to our priests. Possibly even more so.
Remember too, many of the priests formed by the new Mass over the last fifty years have now gone on to become bishops; and here we are left dealing with the fall out of this liturgical formation and its ramifications for the Church.
The current challenge to orthodoxy cannot be separated from the ongoing assault against orthopraxy.
Pray that more of the laity, more of our priests, and more of our bishops recognise this for themselves. Of course, this first requires a familiarity with the traditional liturgy.
My concern is that many do recognise this connection, and that is why they are so hostile toward the traditional Mass.
In reading round I saw an instant connection with another story, shared by the Eponymous Flower concerning the ongoing and tragic story of the Church in Belgium, where the initiatives that had begun to be put in place during Pope Benedict's reign to stem the catastrophic decline of the Church there are being sadly undone. The Society of the Holy Apostles which had undertaken the care of two parishes in the Brussels region and founded a seminary is being ejected by the new Archbishop of Brussels, Jozef De Kesel (appointed in 2015 by Pope Francis). The previous Archbishop (Archbishop Léonard) insisted on this parallel priestly training, hoping to train a new clergy at their new seminary. Three years after the foundation, 21 young men were already preparing for the priesthood. This new foundation was "too successful," as it was described behind the scenes.
An aerial view of Ushaw College - Junior and Senior House.
The formation of priests is a key to how the Church will look on the ground. What I learnt in seminary stays with me - even today after I've tried to revise much of it and even though at the time I was not always keen to be shaped into the model student that was perceived as ideal! Nevertheless, shaped I was by the teaching and the praxis I experienced there.
Could it be that many more priests than we think would like to be more open to such things as Latin and the Traditional Mass but know that, as well as the uphill battle they would face at a diocesan level and from parishioners who have been told for fifty years that such things are forbidden, they have also not been equipped with the theology, spirituality and language to do so very easily?